Reflections now that I’m back.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Many pilgrims talk about how their lives radically changed after completing the Camino. Some devote themselves to charitable endeavors, or a more spiritual lifestyle,or planning their very next camino, and even giving a lot of their earthly possessions away. I agree that life should be simpler, but we’re good with making it a solitary endeavor. We know that life gets hectic, but we do make time for our christian walk and we we are passionate about the charities we invest our time and money in. So has the Camino changed us?
A shower after a long,arduous hike will never feel as good as a shower at home, nor will a plate of pasta and a bottle of wine ever taste quite as satisfying. I’m not as likely to plop down at a table of strangers and start up a conversation or reveal my inner most thoughts with people i’ve just met. The frailty of life was never more apparent but neither was the beauty of it either. The world could have it’s tragedies and scandals but my focus was on making it over the next hill and praising God for His creation.
I found a quote that I think sums it all up.
“The journey home is never a direct route; it is in fact, always circuitous, and somewhere along the way, we discover that the journey is more significant than the destination, and that the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our memories forever.”(N. DeMille form his book “Up Country.”
Yep, that’s a wrap for this time. Thanks to those who came along for the adventure of a lifetime!img_2620

La Familia Sagrada

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

If ever architecture was an act of worship, it’s Barcelona’s Basilica by Anton Gaudi.

Pillars that branch out like trees hold the vaulted ceiling and stained glass mimics the colors of sunrise on one side and sunset on the other. And the outside of the edifice is as enthralling as the inside with all the bible stories that are depicted beneath the 18 bell towers. Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus is scripted above the passion of Christ sculptures revealing the alpha and omega of our faith.

Tickets have to be purchased in advanced online because everyday they are sold out before they open. Though still under construction, a completion date of 2026 will honor the 100th anniversary of the architect’s death.

To experience the Sagrada is to be swept up and drawn a little closer to heaven!

Selfie Stick Improving

Selfie Stick Improving

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Now What?

Monday, September 26th, 2016

We are ahead of schedule from our Camino and ready to do some exploring! Tomorrow we leave Santiago by train to Madrid for three days then on to Barcelona for four. At that point we board a re-positioning cruise that will make stops in Spain, Portugal, and Bermuda as it crosses the Atlantic to New York!! It’s the Sirena from Oceania cruise line. These cruises are dirt cheap–relatively — and pop up twice a year. Our Alaska cruise back 25 years ago was also a cruise like this

In Barcelona we will buy some presentable clothes and maybe a suit case!! This is kinda a “pinch me” I’m dreaming kinda thing. 14 day cruise gets us to NYC on the 18th. Wifi available we think. Then we’ll figure what comes next.

Homesick but loving the exploring!

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Angels In Life’s Journey

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

There is an intensity on the Camino I hadn’t expected. It’s you against each day’s terrain as well as the knowledge that food, water, and a bed are not a guarantee. So coming upon people who speak your language, are closer in age, and profess a Christian Faith (have kids, and grandkids, husbands, normal) makes you halfway to being fast friends. Then, because they’re more experienced and also kind-hearted, they look after you and celebrate each day’s accomplishments and cheer you on! This was Karen and Deborah from Queensland, Australia ❤️

For the majority of the Camino Ingles they took us under wing and welcomed us at the end of each grueling day (they were much faster walkers). When we finally arrived they had scoped out the town, and prayed that our day’s journey would get us there in time to grab the last two beds, and were ready to enjoy dinner and wine and share stories of the path.

We got our compestelas together and sweetly enjoyed our final time together. Thank you both for being our angels and may our life’s journey cross again.

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Why the Camino?

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

It seems like the passage of time has determined a lot of what I can and can’t do. I think my tennis days are over and probably pickle ball too. Roller skating, surfing, jogging; all a thing of the past. Never took up camping and I’m too cautious by nature to try the really risky things like hang gliding. I do want to do more kayaking and I can walk thanks to new knees so why stretch my limits with the Camino?

I’m not ready to be old yet.

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How Do You Eat An Elephant?

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Heathrow to Cantebury, a two day stroll to Dover followed by a ferry to Calais and a train to Lourdes and more travel to Bayonne then St Jean pied port. Over the Pyrenees with several hundred eager pilgrims, sporting headlamps at dawn and forgoing all rest stops to race to find a bed and moving on if they were full.

This had become stresssssssful and not the sacred pilgrimage we had planned on so we saw that there were many accredited ways to arrive at Santiago; via Madrid, Portugal, Barcelona, and from the north-the Camino Ingles. Our research showed us this was the true way the British, Irish, or Scots would have made their way to Santiago several hundred years ago,so we jumped ship and headed to the city of Ferrol on waters edge and dipped our poles in the water and went the way less traveled.

It is fewer days than the busy Camino Frances and lovely and with fewer travelers thus more friendships were made. It was the meditative peace we had envisioned. The terrain was for mountain goats and the long 9-17 mile daily hikes were usually rewarded with a shower, a bottle of wine, and a bunk.

So we have arrived at our destination a wee bit early but we paid our dues with the 300+ miles and we got it done.

One Bite at a Time!

more than 400 kms later

more than 400 kms later

Call me Crazy

Monday, September 5th, 2016

The idea of the Camino crossed my consciousness about three years ago. I read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. I know, that’s about the Appalachian Trail but it gave me the idea that an extended walk would be cool to try, just not where I have to use leaves and a shovel for my potty time.

The Camino was featured on the cover of a National Geographic I never read, but a lecture at our local library came up and on a rainy night I dragged Steve out to hear a gal tell of her and her father’s memorial trip on the Camino de Santiago de Compestela. I was hooked.

Everywhere we traveled we added walking to our plans but my old knees were protesting louder and louder. The orthopedist confirmed I didn’t have 500 miles in the current models and to say ‘when’ and we’d get a new pair. I did tough it out for a few more months but every other day found me sitting and icing. September 29, 2015 I got me two titanium knees.

My doctor, my therapist, and my family and friends all pushed and encouraged and the Personally Fit gym saw me 6 days a week until we could launch out and begin our Camino.

Talking to others as we walk, it’s a little seed of a thought that just won’t go away until it grows and consumes your thoughts. So you go.

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The Reality

Monday, September 5th, 2016

I sweat in places I never knew I had! Carrying 15 pounds on your back is uncomfortable and then you add a couple bottles of water. Washing yourself and clothes in the shower and hoping they dry by morning as they are strung all around the room is a test of faith. Chopping all your hair off and forgoing make up eliminates all vanity almost as much as wearing form-fitting wicking clothes and then binding yourself with all the straps giving you a Michellin Man appearance.

Dawn doesn’t come until 7:45 but you’ve been walking for almost two hours with 100 people who want to pass you. You climb a mountain only to turn and see 2 more ahead. You see other pilgrims stop for a break but you push on because you’re slower and there won’t be enough beds at the hostel if you lag. And at first you try to avoid the sheep poop but after doing a jig all over the countryside you just give up. That’s why you leave your boots at the door!

But having conversations with others about faith and their country of origin (Finland and South Africa the farthest so far) gets deep. Talking with Rolph, with terminal cancer, who is trying to get right with God and sharing your faith and cancer travels . Getting your first bedbug bites and considering them your badge of courage. Praying all the time, mostly for those back home and taking time to listen to answers, but also for that cramp or stiff back and waking new every morning.

It’s a trip of gratitude, testing, and like a praying friend said “with perseverance, even the snail made it to the ark!”

And it’s only been a week.

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Lourdes

Monday, August 29th, 2016

The enormity of Lourdes is still with me several days later. It was magnificent, humble, serene, and frightening all at the same time.

Thousands of people were there from many countries and multitudes were there hoping for a miracle in the healing waters. The quantity of volunteers pushing blue wheels chairs of the seriously ill up to the front mercy gate from the property’s hospital to receive the sign of the cross from bowls of holy water was staggering! So many sick people! So much hope.

You can google Lourdes if you don’t know the story or watch the movie “Song of Bernadette”. But 69 verified healings have happened since 1858 (that are known). Personally my faith is in Jesus Christ as Lord and healer, not in a miraculous spring of water, but what desperation would bring me here? Maybe not for myself, but for my child?

Crowds were lined up filling every kind of potable container possible. People were singing, praying, watching, taking lots of photographs, touching, and holding each other. The multiple sanctuaries were beautiful and worshipful, the acres of parkland so restorative.

I came as a pilgrim not a tourist. Lourdes made me cry.

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Confirmation 

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Woke up with some trepidation; have we really bitten off more than we’re capable of? And today it starts.

Had appointment with the rector at Canterbury Cathedral after the 8am communion but first we enjoyed a light breakfast at our B&B. Another guest came in wearing a San Diego t-shirt so I engaged him in conversation but he only spoke Spanish. And we conversed and we understood each other! Then we entered the Cathedral grounds on the way to the service at the same time as a gentleman who was American teaching in the area and after a few short sentences came to find out he went to Redlands!

The special Pilgrim prayer and stamp in our compestela and we needed to commence before the day got away from us. A mile into our walk, a young lad passed by with a San Diego ball cap. Later, a mom with kids in the car drew up alongside us and saw we were perplexed on directions. She had her son get out of the car and walk us about a mile to make sure we went the right way as the sign was obscured and we would have been lost again!

There were several other small incidences that told our hearts that God was watching us and He approved!

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